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July 28, 2021



Beach and Brownrigg have screwed this up royally.

Peter Garrison

So easy to fix the sidewalks and the drains, neaten the trees and replace the sick ones- but no, it’s politically advantageous to involve as many workers and money as possible.

How about another option? From Adeline to Peninsula turn the historic road back to dirt.

Bypass to California and fix the Broadway crossing to ease the traffic flow.


I agree.

For too long we’ve discriminated against those who prefer to commute by horseback and carriage. Open that stretch of El Camino to equestrians as do parks in New York and Paris.

Chariot races… come on, so cool.


The link to the correct Caltrans website for comments has been added/corrected.


FYI Editor.
The lack of comments makes it "Obvious" this is not an issue.


Wait until the chainsaws start then you will hear lots of "nobody told me this was happening". Guaranteed.


I believe, within our "lifetimes" (20-30 years), we will see absolutely nothing happen to change ECR. Unless there is a major natural disaster, those trees and ECR will be the same.
I LOVE the Trees.
In my opinion, ECR between Trousdale and Poplar should be a Two Lane Road..
One Northern Lane and one Southern Lane.
Landscape in between. Obvious and Simple.


By the way folks...
Does anyone have any thoughts regarding the "EXTRA" $20,000,000.00 above the original "quotes?"
If anyone is interested in what that debt represents it is Public.
What was shocking to me was the $300,000.00 spent on "office furniture."


Feel free to cut, paste, modify and enhance my comment as entered on the comment site:

This project is over-designed and over-engineered for what Burlingame and the mid-Peninsula need. Both the underground and no underground alternatives are too destructive to the eucalyptus groves and the general health and safety of people who travel on and live near El Camino Real. I only want and need three things from this project. 1) Fix the drainage at the known flooding locations--there are four to six of those in Burlingame. They are well known to everyone and need immediate attention. 2) Build "Pedestrian bridges" over the worst sidewalk locations disrupted by tree roots as described on the virtual meeting of 7/14. 3) Repave the road as was partially done in October 2019 as shown here: https://www.burlingamevoice.com/2019/10/caltrans-to-the-rescue-on-ecr.html#comments. Anything above these three items is overkill and threatens the eucalyptus that are an existing and effective safety mechanism. During the virtual meeting, the sun screening advantages to southbound drivers was noted and needs to be retained. The eucalyptus also provide outstanding pedestrian safety as vehicle speeds can reach 50 mph and have been known to careen onto sidewalks. Please go back to the drawing board and come up with a "light build" alternative that limits the work to these three issues.

Little Maddy Freshmouth

Did anyone else notice that the Senior Project Engineer on the virtual meeting didn't even know where McKinley School is located? The arborist had to clue him in. It's a Caltrans classic.


Sadly the Venn diagram of fix the roadway, fix the flooding, fix the ADA and ped safety sidewalk hazards, and keep all the trees is a null set. We're asking Caltrans' engineers to solve a multi-variable problem where the solution does not exist.

The flooding and ponding that happens is because the low points on the curb/gutter along ECR don't have drains. They don't have drains because the tree roots preclude them from being put there. The low points also keep changing because the trees/roots are forming new low points and high points everytime.

The ped bridge idea won't work because there are minimum slopes that need to be met for ADA. We can't expect people in wheelchairs or strollers to be pushed beyond a certain steepness. And there are driveways up and down ECR so the ped bridges have to come down to match the driveways before ramping up/down again. This is just physically impossible.

The roadway base is failing in several places, so it's not just the surface that needs repaving. It's the underlying base that needs redoing. If it's just repaved, then we're back to sq 1 just a year after the project. And the engrs can really only do the base right if you have the curb/gutter set properly which goes back to the low point discussion above.

Joe - I generally agree with you on most things. But I don't see a solution here that meets all the constraints. There will need to be painful compromises here and there. No one will be happy.


I think we agree on one big thing--there is no way to satisfy everyone. Totally agree. The question is who should be disappointed? Perhaps a National Historic Registered landmark (the trees) should get a bit of precedence over perfectly flat sidewalks on both sides of every block. Perhaps there are four or five sections where taking out four or five eucs is the best solution and not hundreds. Heck, I'd like to take out the first one south of Sanchez on the north/east side of ECR myself just for sight lines on a tricky intersection.

Perhaps there are sections where a pedestrian bridge would work because there aren't too many driveways and a bit of an incline is OK. Perhaps acknowledging that the trees add value from a driver and pedestrian safety standpoint is a worthwhile admission. The one-size-fits-all Caltrans rip and replace that takes 4-5 years just ain't the answer.

Barking Dog



Little Maddy Freshmouth

"This recent EIR centers motor-vehicle throughput along the corridor, and that is unacceptable."

LOL! Yeah, girlie. That is because it is A STATE HIGHWAY. It's bought and paid for (what a concept!) by people who...wait for it...drive.


Where are all the climate warriors fighting for the trees?

Paloma Ave

Dear Caltrans El Camino Real Roadway Renewal Project Team,

I am writing as a 40 year Burlingame resident.

Please do not allow bicycle riders to dictate what should be done about El Camino Real. There are already bicycle lanes on California Drive, which parallels El Camino Real.

El Camino Real is a highway. No bicycles should be allowed on a highway.

Don't let Madeline Freshnut and her friends try to convince you otherwise.

Christopher Cooke

I think MV has the most substantive post here highlighting the issues. Personally I am not a fan of the Eucalyptus trees because they are non-native species. That is the bias from which I start to examine the issue, i.e., I am inclined to replace any non-native tree or plant with a native one. I do appreciate the shade and look of the trees but I am not sure they are worth the hassle. The primary focus of the project should be on making ECR a better-functioning road, and a safer road for everyone who uses it, cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians. To place preserving the trees above this focus seems misguided.


I ran into some old Bgame friends this week who do not read the Voice. They asked me what was going on, so I gave them the thumbnail sketch of the El Camino project. Without any prodding, they both said the exact same thing I put in the original post. In addition, one of them commutes down California Dr. every morning and said the exact same thing about the eucalyptus' shade being a critical safety measure for the road. So there's that.


What a cluster Caltrans has made of this. These drones need to step back and look at the minimum impact options. I'm starting to think the answer is Do Nothing! The Camino is actually pretty safe now considering the traffic it sees. Where is our Queen Bee to straighten them out?


I always think it should be a requirement of any traffic engineer that is designing a road in an area that they never drive, that they drive it at all times of the day for six months! Sitting at a computer in Sacramento or wherever it may be and designing this crap, never works.


We are sharing great ideas.
However the Reality presents other issues that would be included in whatever Plan is adopted.
-The State of California is dealing with Delta.
-Fires Everywhere
-Severe Drought
-Governor Recall
Get Real All. The ECR Trees will be here past our lifetimes.
Under the best of conditions, after the lawsuits, the people and business who live and work on ECR are compensated for "loss of service and Home, at a minimum, I believe 14 to 21 years from now.
Where will all that traffic go?
Learn to live with Nature. Especially Human Nature.

Jennifer Pfaff

Agree with most all of the thoughtful comments here (with the exception of those from Mr. Cooke regarding non-native plantings).

I have to give Caltrans credit for at least being honest with the visual simulations showing a “denuded” highway—they are just shocking, the images show a nearly unrecognizable highway in many places--there are no other words to describe it.

If people hadn’t realized it before, these clearly show just how much we have benefitted from their presence, in so many ways-- including several already mentioned here by many others.

But don’t forget how we got here. Since at least the 1940s the State Highway Division (now Caltrans) has relentlessly attempted to widen El Camino Real and remove the trees, always facing community pushback. About 6 years ago, however, Caltrans got very, very close to achieving this.

In another example of why maintaining local control is so important, Burlingame City Council (led at the time by Mayor Brownrigg), various commissions, city staff and dozens of concerned community members united in making a simple, yet compelling argument to pilot a left-turn prohibition first (rather than bulldoze first)— and 4 years later, this simple, very low-tech solution was deemed a success.

Had Caltrans proceeded with that widening project, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that our entire stretch of tree-lined highway would be widened within about 25 years, meaning no more trees, ever again.

So, if there is any good news to be had, it’s that widening is finally off the table after decades of threats. In my mind, that is a huge win.

The other has been Burlingame’s commitment of funds to get those utility lines buried. There are huge safety and aesthetic benefits to this, so it just has to become part of the project plans.

There has been plenty written in the Journal and in the BV about the ECR Task Force that was initiated as part of the 2016 agreement with Caltrans, so I won’t waste more space here, but a number of recommendations came out of those meetings.

One of them had to do with a gradual “fix” in segments, rather than all at once. That would have at least reduced the visual impact of tree removals to something more gradual and less abrupt over a longer period. From the material published in the June Draft environmental document, that type of solution is apparently not in the cards with the huge scope of infrastructure improvements involved. MVs comments in this thread best reflect that reality, as disappointing as that is.

I submitted several pages of comments; hopefully many of you have, too. If one is to assume that a project of some sort will be taking place, it is critical and imperative that the remaining healthy trees, and all new plantings be properly maintained (and replaced) over the long haul.
This has not been happening for a very long time— and it is the only way future generations will have the benefit of anything similar to what exists now.


Thank you Ms. Pfaff for all the hours you have put into bring attention to The Trees of Burlingame.
I have one comment, instead of widening ECR it should/could be reduced to a North and South two lane HWY.

Jennifer Pfaff

You are very welcome, Holly.

The configuration you are referring to is one they looked at, also, because a number of people have suggesting the same, even before this project came up.

There is a section in the Draft EIR EIS document (pages 2-12 and 2-13) that deals with that configuration.

Here is the link: https://dot.ca.gov/-/media/dot-media/district-4/documents/d4-environmental-docs/82-el-camino-real-roadway-renewal-project/2021-06-09-0k810_1g900_sm-82_ded_061021_ada.pdf.

There may be others here who can explain the issues with two lanes better than I, but in this case, the gist seems to involve triggering the need for more frequent bus pullouts (these are very wide and long) and a different type of drainage configuration. By their account, this configuration turned out to reduce significant removals by just 5%-- And then they mention the bottleneck issues and increased travel times, of course.


You would have to be a complete IDIOT to make El Camino one lane in each direction. OMG. What a fool.

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